Wilson Plaza History
The Wilson Plaza historical development started in 1927 with the construction of the first "skyscraper" in Corpus Christi, a 12-story structure located fifty feet from the water known as the Nixon Building.
The Nixon Building and the famed White Plaza Hotel across the street dominated the skyline of uptown Corpus Christi through the '30's and the area became the center of business activity, as it is today.
Over the years a landfill extended the water's edge from the bluff to a sea wall providing space for a downtown commercial area and the yacht basin.
By 1935 the economy was dominated by agriculture and an eight-story structure known as the "Cotton Exchange" was added to the Nixon Building. Each of the new building's floors connected to the original Building. Its first tenants were primarily cotton traders.
In 1947 when oil achieved major economic importance, a legendary oil and real estate financier, Sam E. Wilson, purchased the two buildings. During the 40's, Mr. Wilson produced 44 consecutive successful oil wells.
In 1951 Mr. Wilson built a 17-story office tower with a four-story penthouse and a 400-car 6 story-parking garage. Mr. Wilson had the garage constructed so he could eventually stack a 6 to 10 story office building on top. His floor plans were for 9,200 sf each.
The penthouse was Wilson's pride and joy. The 20th floor was finished out as a game room with a private bar constructed on a grand scale of mahogany and trimmed in tufted leather and brass. The view from the penthouse was described as rivaling that of the Top of the Mark Restaurant in San Francisco. It was the scene of many "invitation only" parties attended by Corpus' elite, where Wilson negotiated many of his major business deals. Most of the talk centered on "Sam's" parties and card games. The 21st floor contained guest rooms for "out-of-town" clients. After Mr. Wilson's death in 1957, Mrs. Wilson hosted society, civic, bridge and debutante functions in the penthouse.
Today the Wilson Plaza is still the prime location to enjoy the panoramic views of the blue coastal waters. But the complex has been enhanced with the liberal application of marble and tile on the ground floor interiors and completely remodeled ground floor exteriors. A new covered walkway bordered by a patio of brick pavers and landscaping connecting the three buildings has been added. Tenant comfort has been increased by improved air conditioning and lighting. The old world charm of the Wilson Plaza has not been lost where tenants and visitors appreciate daily greetings by the elevator operators in the Tower.
Corpus Christi History
A 111 foot long, 12 foot high mural is located on the south wall of the breezeway facing the parking lot and many of the following events are on the mural.
1410 – 1860 Karancawa (Carancahua) Indians lived along the Texas Coast
1519 – 1527 visited by Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, Spanish Sea Captain
1553 Shipwreck of Vera Cruz on way to Spain
1686 Galleon Labell wrecked in Matagorda Bay, Rediscovered in 1986
1712 – 1722 French landed but driven off by Karancawa Indians
1762 Settled by Spanish colonists who brought in longhorn cattle
1836 Texans won independence from Mexico
1839 –1848 Colonel Kinney established trading post on bluff overlooking bay. In 1852 Colonel Kinney brought the Lone Star State Fair to Corpus.
1840’s Karancawa decimated by disease;
1845+ U.S. Army arrived with 4,000 troops under General Zachary Taylor Headquartered on North Beach ½ mile north of Texas State Aquarium, dug artesian well for water at today’s Artesian Park.Defeated Mexican army in Mexico
1854 Yellow Fever outbreak, killed one or more in each home
1861 Union and Confederate forces met in inconclusive battle for CC
1863 Union Army established Camp Semmes, now Port Aransas
1867 2nd Yellow Fever outbreak
1873 Volunteer Fire Department established “on the bluff” Bell in Market Hall
1880 Dunn ran 130,000 acre, 110-mile long ranch on Padre Island
1881 Texas-Mexico Railroad established to Laredo, the “Manana Express”
1899 Ship channel dredged and jetties installed, Causeway built
1913 Brown Pelican population destroyed by commercial fishermen
1920’s Manta Rays as large as two tons active in bay
1922 Oil production started by Saxet Co., Amusement Park opened on North Beach
1926 Bascule Bridge Opened on the site of the present Harbor Bay Bridge.
1927 Charles Lindberg visited CC in “Spirit of St. Louis”
1930’s Bay dredged and landfill created “lower” Corpus Christi
1937 President Roosevelt came to CC for Tarpon Fishing
1938 First “Buccaneer Days” celebration
1939 –1941 “T” Head’s and Shoreline Drive Constructed
1940’s Navy trains 600 pilots per month at Naval Air Station. “Nellie B” ferry active
1959 Harbor Bridge to Portland/Rockport/Aransas Pass built
1991 Navy moves its minesweeper training facilities to Ingleside
1992 Aircraft Carrier Lexington arrives for Permanent display
2000 SS Texas Treasure arrives for offshore gambling
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